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Is Heath Ledger Oscar-worthy?

July 18, 2008

Heath ledger in Batman

The hype around Friday’s release of the “The Dark Knight” has reached a fever pitch, with Heath Ledger’s dark turn as the Joker generating an avalanche of posthumous Oscar buzz.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone has called Ledger’s performance “mad-crazy-blazing brilliant,” while the sequel’s director Christopher Nolan has raved in the New York Times that Ledger’s portrayal of the sadistic makeup-caked villain is “stunning” and “iconic”.

The big-ticket Academy Award categories have typically been bereft of summer blockbuster nominees.

But is Ledger’s performance so bone-chillingly remarkable that it can survive the hype and the action-movie stigma?

As the 2006 best-picture shunning of “Dreamgirls” demonstrated, presumptive hype can lead to a snub when the Academy Award nominations are announced.

The Internet Oscar buzz alone for the Australian actor – lead by a gallery of fans likely still reeling from the shock of his untimely death in January – has eclipsed the praise of traditional critics, elevating the risk that Ledger will become a target for backlash.

The film is likely to surge above the $100-million mark during its opening weekend, placing the film in the same mega-earning category as “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

clip_image002.jpgWriting Ledger’s name on a ballot will perhaps become more palatable for Academy voters given the length of time between opening weekend and when Oscar nomination polls close on Jan.12, 2009.

This may be one time when fading memories are deemed an advantage amongst the fickle Hollywood elite – cementing Ledger’s legacy as an Oscar-worthy talent.

For full coverage of “The Dark Knight”, click here.


It is the BEST movie i have EVER seen (The Dark Knight) the JOKER is my FAVE character i LOVE HIS SOCKS !!!!!!!!!!!! they ROC!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANT THEM SO BAD !!!


Very good movie. I must admit that I was skeptical about Ledger being cast as The Joker, but I’ll be the first to admit that in no way did he disappoint. I will go so far as to say that Caesar Romero and Jack didn’t play The Joker any better than Ledger. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I also believe that his unfortunate death added a bit of a “chill” and darkness to an already dark character that gave this movie additional edge and emotion. He definitely delivered and deserves a posthumous Oscar. I believe the film was a bit too long, but it is packed with tons of action, and moviegoers will not even notice. There are also great storylines within the plot that add to the charm of this movie. Two thumbs up!

Posted by B | Report as abusive

I agree with Dusty and a whole bevy of other posters. I think that this movie and ultimately talks of Heath winning any awards, is because he’s dead. I DID see the movie and I DO think he did an amazing job, but would this even be a published article if he WAS alive? We all think of him in this role in a different way. What about Christian Bale? He did a fantastic job himself. At least half of this movie’s hype was because Heath Ledger had passed. RIP.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

“The Dark Night” was one of the best movies I’ve seen. I went into the theater thinking, well, this will suck, but I was so wrong. Ledger byfar was the best joker I have seen. He makes all the others kind of, um, not so great. It breaks my heart knowing that was Heath’s final performance. Everyone played so well in the movie. Heath Ledger most def. deserves that Oscar. All though I do agree there have been other Oscar worthy performances this year, but his was one that stood out even more in my eyes.

Posted by tiffany | Report as abusive

His brilliant performance as Joker somewhat complete the loop of dark roles he’d assumed in his movies. Remember him in roles like the Young Sheriff in Monster Ball; son of general in The Patriot; the drug abuser in Candy; and lead in Brokeback mountain? It’s like all the dark performances peaked with the Joker. I can help but relate his death to Brandon Lee who died whilst filming the Crow: face make-up too.. The title The Dark Knight ironically can be used to describe H Ledger short but brilliant movie career.

Posted by Fatcat | Report as abusive

dusty, are you and idiot? seriously? that movie was hyped up before he died. and i remember thinking to myself when i first saw the preview that this was the perfect role for him. they aired same previews, since before he died but now i guess cause he did die you find it your personal crusade to disagree? get a life. wow. now i will agree that some people will only go see it cause he died, and will decide before even seeing the movie that they’re gonna love it just cause he did die but that doesn’t take away from the sheer genius of his acting skills. i never imagined that someone could ever do the joker character accurately.. not even jack nicholson did it right because he’s crazy.. bottom line.. and because he is just a bit cuckoo he couldn’t grasp the serious psychotic element of this character.. he was not only out of his mind but also sophisticated and calm in his own scary way and only a true amazing performer could grasp that. btw, i just saw the movie today and it exceeded every expectation that i had. rip heath.

Posted by Christine | Report as abusive

If Heath is not given an Oscar for the most accurate portrayal of a character in American “literature” ever, it will be the biggest travesty in the history of the Academy Awards.

Posted by Tay | Report as abusive

Reading some of the other posts here makes me cringe. Yes I would be thinking he deserves an Oscar if he was still alive. As a huge comic book fan, I can tell you that this is by far a much better portrayal of the joker than Ceasar Romero (come on, campy Batman?) and even Jack Nicholson. Jack’s performance was good, but he played a laughing madman. No, “madman” is not a hard role to pull off, however, NAILING the role of The Joker is different. This is not a generic madman or some proprietary villain of some random movie… this is an established, well known character being played far better than anyone has ever done. And how could anyone go into the Dark Knight thinking it would suck. Did you SEE Batman Begins?

Posted by Tay | Report as abusive

Just saw the movie and I have to say. It’s the best Batman so far. And Heath, wow, he made that movie his own. I am not saying this because he has passed away, but seriously, you become engulfed by his talent. They could have made a movie all about the Joker himself. Awesome movie great actor.

Posted by Joyci | Report as abusive

well I am a Batman fan and I just came from seeing the movie , best movie !!!!! !
and for who ever is beign so freaking negative if Heath gets nominated just because he was a great actor he prove it to us in his last movie he made . What a whole bunch of punks grow up give the man a chance he deserve it more than any lame actors that do not know how to act . And with all do respect R.I.P. Heath and God Bless. You deserve that Oscar

Posted by batgirl v | Report as abusive

I saw The Drk Night today, and I personally think Heath is an amazing actor and should be awarded an oscar. Just becuase he did something wrong doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get recognized for what he did right. Memorial Oscar is in order.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Batman the Darknight is going in my top 10 favorite Movies of all time it was amazing from start to finish. It was so good im going to watch it again tomorrow just to make sure I saw what I saw seriously. I will recommend this movie to any one who hasn’t seen it. Heath Ledger is simply amazing RIP. And that’s all I have to say about that. If you don’t like the movie then something is wrong with you maybe you should go see High School Musical or something. Ya dig……………………yeah.

Posted by Matt Willis | Report as abusive

My husband and I saw Dark Knight tonight. I am not necessarily a Batman fan, and I didn’t even know who played The Joker (or who Heath Ledger was) until I got home and looked it up on the net because I thought he had done such a fantastic job and deserved an award. So, as an objective viewer with no preconceptions about the movie or the actor, I say he deserves it. A good job is a good job is a good job.

Posted by Marj | Report as abusive

I just got back from The Dark Knight and I was blown away. This is definitely in my top 10 of all time. Even if Heath did not die he stole the show regardless. The writing of the film and excellent acting provide a definite Oscar for more then just Ledgers Joker but for Best Picture.

Posted by Fricken Jose | Report as abusive

Dusty, the death of Heath Ledger and how that influenced his performance as “the Joker” is very debatable. I, like other fans of Ledger, have been waiting eagerly to watch “the Dark Knight” to see how he portrayed the demented clown. Those who know somewhat of the Batman series, especially in the comics, understand how the Joker charms the audience with his lunacy, chaotic, ruthless, yet witty behavior. Even though I watched Ledger’s acting tonight knowing of his death, his performance was brilliant. I am glad knowing that Ledger understood the Joker’s personality and his role in Gotham City and towards Batman. I give kudos not only to Heath Ledger, but to Christopher Nolan and the rest of the crew to captivate the darkness and the creepiness that does not make this “just not another Batman movie,” but how the Batman movies should be done. Beat that.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

And another thing, he does deserve that award.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

he shudnt just get an oscar he shud get the best award an actor can get! he was absolutly amazing! he was so convincing and was just absolutly brilliant!!! and i seriously cant believe that hes no longer with us, he was just the best actor in evry movie he playde and it was so sad watching the batman movie :’(
but hats off to heath! truly amazing

Posted by chantel | Report as abusive

Ok bottome line if i cant see an actor through a chracter then hes done his job /bow to heath for bringing me back to the movies

Posted by Zaubernat | Report as abusive

Gday guys, Now i thought i would have my say. Im an aussie and that may make me a little biased but i have just seen The Dark knight and i am amazed. Heath’s performance was brilliant. I am a psychiatric nurse by profession and i treat psychotic and psychopathic people on a daily basis. Health’s protrail of a mentally unstable psychopathic villain is faultless. Im proud that he was australian and i think it would be ridiculous if he didnt get an Oscar for his performance.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

The Dark Knight is probably the best movie I have ever seen. Forgetting Ledger’s performance, which was truly fantastic and gripping, The story was raw and powerful. The actors were all great and the artistic direction was nearly perfect. This movie should win Movie of the Year and Heath Ledger should get an Oscar. I though that he was getting attention just for dying but I feel so stupid for thinking that. Heath’s performance is unforgettable.


I just saw The Dark Knight, and it is not just another Batman movie. This is a big deal. I felt wild and emotional afterwards. I felt really good and really sad. As I was walking out of the theater I knew that everyone else was excited as well. It is my opinion that Ledger is worthy of an Oscar or just a really big award. Also I think that whoever wrote the film deserves an oscar. Scratch that, everyone involved deserves an Oscar.

Posted by m crossley | Report as abusive

Heath Ledger’s performance was pure awesomeness

Posted by Eug | Report as abusive

heath ledger is a god…batman dark knight is single handedly the greatest movie ever and heath ledger gave the most chilling sadistic mega brilliant performance of all-time…bow down to the new joker “jake nicholson”


Also, all you newly professed Ledger fans who are calling this his final show – IT’S NOT!

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is due out in 2009.

Posted by samuel | Report as abusive

I think if dusty actually saw the movie before he commented on it, he would be singing a different tune. Im not a ledger fan, Im not even a batman fan. I didnt even see the first one. But I can appreciate a good performance and when I see one. Ledger’s joker was amazing and it made the movie

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

OK, I’ll admit not being a Batman movie fan. In fact, I didn’t even know Ledger was the Joker. (I guessed it was Jim Carrey.) I said whoever that is deserves the Oscar. It made the movie, no question.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

I have just seen the Dark Knight. Ledger was brilliant. He brought the Joker to life in all of his darkness. This film is easily the best of the summer. Do not wait to see it. I can’t wait until its in blue ray and dvd. Finally the Dark Knight I remember. My gratitude to the producers, director, actors and artists who made this film. You have made a classic that will indure forever.


Posted by Keith G Saunders | Report as abusive

I just have to comment again. This film is brilliant. It is the real Batman. Not that joke that we have been forced to see time and again. With the release of Batman Begins and now the Dark Knight people who have never read batman finally get to see the real Dark Knight. Batman and all of his villians are twisted psychotic individuals who are wrestling for the soul of a city. This is the Batman I remember from my youth. This is the real Dark Knight. Heath Ledger rest in peace with the knowledge you have set the bar so high I don’t think anyone can play the Joker after you. It’s a shame that we will only have this one performance from him. But know this no one will ever follow him or out perform him in this role.

Posted by Keith G Saunders | Report as abusive

I can’t believe that Heath’s death is even a topic of debate for this film and his role in it. It has nothing to do with the perfect performance he gave. For people who have seen the movie, you know that it was not Heath Ledger on the screen. That was the Joker. He was creepy, insane, terrifying, and funny. That is what the joker is and that’s what was on the screen. I agree with everyone who says he out-acted or stole the show. He totally did. Not only from the other actors, he has even stolen NIcholson’s fire. Sitting in the theater you could not wait until the Joker came back on. As far as an Oscar goes, he is the winner in my mind, hands-down. Not only did Ledger completely become the character, it is perhaps the most entertaining and thrilling performance I’ve ever seen. Whenever they announce the oscar winner it’s usually totally expected because the Academy has their lame standards. It’s always a boring dramatic movie, with a very subtle performance. Should’nt the most entertaining movie of the year be the best one? Is it not the entertainment industry? The movie itself (TDK) should at least get nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay in addition to Heath’s award.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive



I like the old Batman movies(Comic Book)but “The Dark Knight” is more realistic and Ledger performance stold the show, he is down right disturbing, funny and very demonic! He really plays with the human psyche like no other villian has before… Ledger will be missed, God bless him! But the role of the Joker will be hard to fill, this is an Oscar!!!!


In each of these scenes and many others throughout the movie, Ledgers carries an aura around him. Notwithstanding the dramatic tone of the entire movie, I think Heath Ledger as The Joker was unmistakeably the entertainment tonight. And for this fabulous performance he deserves an Oscar,albeit posthumously! For, Heath Ledger might not be around to have the last laugh, but at least ‘Let us put a smile on that face’.


I’m glad to see so much positive feedback. The film was superb, the acting…Superb. This will never be just another Batman movie. I also agree that the oscar means nothing. I do think he truly earned it, but we all can see what he accomplished. I will undoubtedly miss Mr. Ledger as an actor. May he be forever remembered as the Joker.

Posted by Yeast | Report as abusive

I just came from seeing Dark Knight and I definately will be adding this to my list of all time favorite movies. This was actually the first Batman movie I sat through & it was well worth my money. Heath Ledger’s performance was absolutely great. It is so unfortunate that he was not able to live long enough to see his reviews or receive his Oscar!


I just saw the dark knight yesterday. i like all the other actors they were good and all but i was blown away by heath’s perfomance. he deserves every ounce of that “best actor” Oscar

Posted by Daniel Clem | Report as abusive

I was watching THE JOKER, not heath playing the joker.

Posted by Davvi | Report as abusive

The joker (heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight was the best acting i have seen in a long time.. it was undescribable how amazing he was.. i wasnt even wathcing it for batman after his first seen.. i was wanting to see the joker the entire movie. If he does not get an oscar then perhaps they should go repo someones oscar, because we all know that he did alot better then some other questionable oscar winners..

Posted by Mason | Report as abusive

And one last thing.. The one bad thing the Joker (heath ledger) did, was do such a good job that he owned that movie period, and with his death also a sequel.. NOBODY WILL EVER OUT DO THAT PREFORMANCE and nobody has wat it takes to equal his preformance in that movie to even justify a sequel. There will never be a joker ever agian.. unless its some cartoon, and even then its risky business. And i swear if robot chicken or family guy make a joke epsiode about the dark knight or the joker i wil boycott them or something..

Posted by Mason | Report as abusive

I’m not a Ledger fan or a Batman fan. I’m a Bale fan. I saw the movie twice. The first time is I wanted to see what all the hype was about. The second time I watched it just so I could see Ledger again. I was never a fan of his. I just couldn’t bear to watch Brokeback, but heard it was great. Other roles he’s been in where all over the map in terms of his acting. With him dying, I knew he wouldn’t be able to match the hype. I WAS WRONG. He was an AMAZING Joker. His presence overshadowed all the other great actors in this film. He was so detailed with all his movements, voice inflections, mannerisms with regard to the Joker, it was awesome to watch.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

i saw the movie and, although great at it, heath was still just the joker in a batman movie. nothing else. if he were alive, this notion would never exist.


Heath Ledger’s es el actor mas impactante que he visto y que ha podido sacerme de la boca un “que actor tan extraordinario”. simplemente el, el un actor con todo el sentodo del termino “actor” quien sin lugar a duda dejara marcado su historia en el cine. dejara marca. y su ultima pelicula (la pelicula, GRACIAS A EL, y a todos los demas actores, PERO EL)y su toque fantastico que hizo de psicipata perfecto es lo maximo, lloro por el simple hecho de que no podre ver obras buenas y nuevas en manos de este hombre tan extraordinario. Heath Ledger’s eres el mejor. con amor carol.

Posted by carolina | Report as abusive

Having just seen “The Dark Knight” here are my observations
… This movie was a roller coaster of entertainment.
2 hours 30 minutes of “cant take my eyes off the screen” entertainment. Bravo!!!
… The villain always have the juiciest parts, that being said, Heath Ledgers performance absolutely nailed the essence of a man wanting to “Burn it all – just to see what happens”, which is in truth the way the Joker and his insanity is meant to be played. – This batman franchise is 2 movies old and can not be compared to the previous servings. Jack Nicholson played the Joker as the old TV show required it to be played, a wise cracking, camp psychotic, who although sadistic, did not show the pure “menace” that the Ledger version did.
Comparing them side by side, this newer Joker is far more sinister, cunning and evil than the previous version.
Then again, so is the Batman. Ok franchise 2 ( Tim Burtons Batman ) had an edge, but still suffered from the very camp image that the TV show of the 60′s/70′s left on it. Franchise 3. Is Dark, menacing and very very Gothic. as Gotham City should be. Batman is darker, as he should be and the Ledger portrayal of the Joker rates with the all time baddies ( such as Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs ).
Worthy of an Oscar, who can say ( They are a rule unto themselves ), worthy of all other “Best Supporting Actor” awards, most definitely.
My advice – go see the movie with an open mind, enjoy the shocks, the violence and the twists. Then judge for yourselves. I did, and I am saddened we wont get a reprise of this role ever because of his foolish death.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

We just returned from seeing the movie and I must say this is the best movie I think I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Heath Ledgers performance as the joker was perfect in every way. Just a phenominal job… can’t really say much more. We’ll be buying the dvd.

Posted by KarenfromIrving | Report as abusive

I saw this movie the day after it came out, which was three days ago, and I still cannot get Heath Ledger’s performance out of my mind! It was a chilling, haunting story. He brought a depth to the character, he made me feel almost sorry for him when other characters called him crazy after the Joker had made the pencil ‘dissappear’. I dare you to find another actor that could make you feel sorry for the villian.

Posted by Katelyn | Report as abusive

i seen this movie yesterday.i really didn’t know he died but when they told me i was shocked.he played really great or fantastic.he made the jocker look creppy and a villian.i even thought he was kinda cute.loved the way he like liked his tounge.well i defentaly think he deserves a oscar no matter what.and if he doesn’t he will still be a legend to heath ledger.


Damn right he does. He did the best job I’ve ever seen on film playing a vilian. I was totally down after the movie. Not because it was bad, but because I wont ever see him play the joker role again. No one will ever do as good a job as Heath did. The best ever. Jack could only wish he did half the job as heath.

Posted by christopher long | Report as abusive

give heath andrew ledger an oscar, SOMEONE
he deserves it.

dusty :@

heath has always been an AMAZING actor, with films like
-10 things
-brothers grimm

theres been loads
aswell as the fact he was on a soap aswell.
i think if people think hes just getting this attention because he is dead, they should think again its completly wrong he was and alwyas will be one of the greatest actors alive no matter what, and you just need to watch the dark knight to realise this

r.i.p. heathcliff

Posted by Polly | Report as abusive

I dont Care what Other people think about you
you are the hero of the film
it doesnt matter whthr you are going to win the oscars or not
but you aleady won millins of hearts

Posted by Kanta rao | Report as abusive

Its really idiotic if ledger does not get an oscar. Of all the films released so far….LEdger topps all the acts

Posted by Akshay | Report as abusive

Gary Oldman is a truly great character actor. He spoke of the performance by Heath Ledger in very specific terms. He did not say Heath did a great job as the joker. He stated that he believes we have probably witnessed The Greatest Villain the screen has ever and will ever see. I watch the performance and remain in a trance like state, so affected and totally captivated by the extreme depth of the performance. The performance will truly live forever as not just a villain of superhero proportions, but as one of THE Greatest screen performances of all time. I only hope Hollywood has the guts to do the right thing and look beyond its petty political BS, and recognize what is so obvious to the rest of us. Blown away!!

Posted by Tom Stathopulos | Report as abusive

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